Seawolves tighten up defense, stomp pair of foes

UAA senior forward Kaylie Robison operates in the low post in a 79-39 win over Northwest Nazarene on Jan. 26. Photo by Zachary Smith

There was a common theme this past week during the UAA Women’s Basketball games against Northwest Nazarene on Jan. 26 and against Central Washington on Jan. 28. Words like annihilation, demolition and crushing could all be verbs used to describe the pair of home victories UAA earned over their visitors.

The Seawolves steamrolled their way to 79-39 and 80-48 victories against the Crusaders and Wildcats, respectively, and remained atop the conference standings in the process.

However, anyone who witnessed the Jan. 26 game will agree that the Seawolves started out sluggish in the first half.

The first half was a medley of jump ball scrambles and Seawolf fouls, giving the Crusaders quite a few free throw opportunities to catch up. Northwest hit 8-10 of those opportunities in the last three minutes of the first half, getting them substantially closer to UAA and going into the break at 32-23.

“I thought we started out a little bit slow,” said UAA starting junior guard Haley Holmstead. “We were relying a lot on our offense to get us started but when we refocused on defense, things turned out good.”

The halftime break helped tremendously, as the Seawolves seemed to come out as a different and much more composed team in the second half. UAA proceeded to make a 17-2 run, showcasing their offense and defense, until Northwest freshman Vanessa Schindler hit a three pointer. From there, the Crusaders pushed to topple the Seawolves’ ever mounting lead but UAA’s defensive focus kept them at bay and allowed UAA to run away with the rout.

“I think we were our own opponent in the first half,” said UAA Head Coach Tim Moser. “So really, it was just our team gathering themselves, taking a half time break and realizing they didn’t have to do that stupid stuff.”

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Not only did the game against the Crusaders represent the Seawolves’ ninth win in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference this season, but also put senior forward Hanna Johansson further into the record books by becoming only the second Seawolf to have 100 career wins.

When asked about her accomplishment, Johansson stated that it was a great feeling but she doesn’t care if she breaks former teammate Nikki Aden’s record of 110 career wins.

“I just want to get a national championship,” Johansson said.

In their final game of a four-game homestand two days later, UAA picked right up where they left off against the Crusaders. This time, it came at the misfortune of the visiting CWU Wildcats.

“We started out the game really well; our first 20 minutes were probably the best as a collective group this year,” said UAA’s Assistant Coach Rebecca Alvidrez. “Hopefully we can build on that for the rest of the year.”

UAA’s focus led them to a 32-point lead on Central going into halftime, but not before many felt that the game had gotten too physical, including Central Washington’s Head Coach Shawn Nelson.

Nelson was charged with a technical foul while on the bench with a just under two minutes to go in the first half.

“I just told the official that I thought they lost complete control of the game and that it was completely one-sided in terms of it being physical,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson, the officials had to tell both coaches in the second half to pull back a little and that they were going to start calling tighter.

“Yeah, we have to expect that because our conference is very physical,” said UAA senior forward Kaylie Robison. “But I think it makes it kind of fun.”

The Seawolves and Wildcats continued to battle it out evenly in the final frame of play, matching each other with 32 points. However, the damage had already been done in the first half, as the Seawolves were able to put it in cruise control and win their fifth straight game.

Despite the physicality, no one was injured and almost every player from both teams got to play. Moser sent in multiple variations of starters and the bench to really showcase the depth of the Seawolves.

“That’s fun when you get to see everyone in action,” Robison said. “It’s fun when everyone scores too, it’s a team effort.”

Alvidrez stated how important it was to have a deeply talented bench, especially when heading into the conference tournament play, which has teams play games back-to-back.

Despite being on the losing end, Nelson was quick to give credit to the play of UAA.

“I just want to say that Anchorage is where they should be, they handle every situation very well and it is impressive,” Nelson said.

With just seven games remaining in the GNAC schedule for UAA, they now take their game on the road for stiff tests. They will take on rival Seattle Pacific on Feb. 2 and then Montana State Billings on Feb. 4.